Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I tilt toward nurture.

(I was eyeballing all the winter dust balls in my house and these thoughts tumbled out.)

Nature or nurture? I tilt toward nurture. From an early age, I was in a convent boarding school where the only thing I knew of cooking was an occasional sighting of Sister Joseph appearing flushed and waving a wooden spoon. The only thing I knew of housework were the smells of institutional cleaning solutions on the dormitory floors. The only thing I knew of affection were the over the top crushes the girls had on each other. The only thing I knew of life work was marrying Jesus and being devoted to his teachings.

Here’s my adult report card on cleaning house, cooking, affection, money and life’s work.

I don’t know how to keep a house. My house is not filthy like a gas station bathroom is filthy but it is unkempt (why is that ‘m’ in that word?) When I finally clean, I clean like a neurotic down to toothbrush scrubbing the blender buttons. I don’t clean often enough. Likewise out of doors. When I finally rake the leaves, I pick up every tiny speck of non-grass but some years (this year) I only rake the front to look good for the neighbors and leave the back messy and troubled.

Cooking was self-taught although both men and women in the family were all fantastic cooks and I stored some know-how for making good tabouli. After college, I knew how to broil chicken. (Broiling is what you do with the small compartment below the regular oven). Newly married, I opened up the new unabridged Gourmet Cookbook but when I read a recipe that began hang three ducks for six days, I closed it. I don’t know how to bake anything except a potato and maybe an okay quiche. Oh, and a ham that only needs heating.

I have a strange association with money. (Notice how I skipped “affection”). My father was very wealthy but would have been happy to spend $0.00 and tried his best to do so. He and his brother owned a boutique department store on the most visible corner of Connecticut Avenue in Washington D.C. At one time it had two branches in Bethesda, Md. and further along Connecticut near DuPont Circle. It had a Frenchy name: Jean Matou, La Maison de Trousseau. During the war, I was told that the Saah brothers sold bootleg silk stockings. Silk was rationed to make parachutes and women used to draw a seam on the back of their legs because they couldn’t buy hose. My father took the bus to work every day and went in early to sweep his own shop.

Fast forward: I can comfortably lose big sums of money and I can give money away but I have a hard time purchasing. I tend to return most things because I can’t have them around me. I found out in middle age that I love retail selling (duh). Putting my books up on the kindle has satisfied my passion for commerce. It is the best of all neurotic be-like-daddy worlds. I haven’t yet asked to sweep the Amazon warehouse.

What about affection, love, intimacy? I’m still trying to figure all of that out. I thought I had figured it out but then came four irresistible grandchildren.

(If you like tabouli, look for "Tabouli Smackdown" recipe in the December blogs.)


  1. Suddenly it makes sense that Amazon calls its warehouses "fulfillment centers"

  2. i don't know who said it first, but "they" say grandchildren are the conduits of living and life. what we can't or won't learn from anyone else, we gladly learn from them.